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19th Hole
News and Opinion

Golf Blogs: Brooks Koepka,

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Date CreatedMost Popular

Sean Donnelly
Koepka is driven by more than a ‘chip on his shoulder’
Oct 1, 2020 3:29 AM
Tags: US Open   Brooks Koepka,   Masters   News   pga tour  
 
If there is one thing Brooks Koepka doesn’t lack, it’s motivation. From the time he railed at ESPN for excluding him from their 2018 ‘Dominant List’, to the occasion when he called for the dismissal of a member of Fox Sport’s press team who had neglected to include him in a US Open promo video, the four-time major champion has consistently shown himself to be, shall we say, sensitive to even the merest hint of a slight – real or perceived. This psychological dynamic, generally framed as a ‘chip on the shoulder’, has been observed widely in the golfing press. Just as the Guardian’s Ewan Murray last year opined that ‘Chips on shoulder drive Brooks Koepka’s shot at US Open history’, Golfweek’s Rick Lerner noted that ‘Brooks Koepka sits atop golf world with chip on shoulder’. Even the player has confided that he feels he is deserving of greater recognition for the extent of his dominance at major championship level over the past three seasons. Speaking to the press ahead of last year’s Open Championship at Portrush, for instance, he stated that "I think you always have to have a chip on your shoulder, no matter what it is. Every great athlete and every major sport always has one. Over the last year and a half, I just felt like if other guys had done what I had done it would be a bigger deal…I'm over that, I'm over trying to get the recognition.” "Where I am in my career right now, I feel like I could very easily have six majors to my name, and there's a lot of second places in there, too. I'd like to get to 25 career wins on the PGA Tour."Brooks Koepka discusses his ambitious career targets in a special player blog.— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) September 30, 2020 It was fascinating, therefore, to read Koepka elaborate on his sources of motivation in an in-depth opinion article for Sky Sports Golf. The 30-year-old has struggled with a knee injury which saw him side-lined for three months in 2019 and he was obliged to call a premature halt to his 2020 season after requiring intensive on-course treatment during his US PGA Championship defence at Harding Park in August. Koepka rounded-out the campaign ranked a lowly 97th in the FedEx Cup standings, having recorded twice as many missed-cuts as he managed top-10 finishes in 13 starts over the past 10 months. Down to No.10 in the world rankings, the Floridian has a strong incentive to re-stake his claim to PGA Tour dominance. Judging by the nature of his comments to Sky Sports, that desire to confound doubters and disprove sceptics is deep-seated and burning as intensely as ever. “Looking back now, I think I won maybe five tournaments as a junior in Tallahassee”, Koepka reflected. “It wasn't like I was winning consistently and I wasn't the ‘it’ kid by any means. I wasn't the best. And when you're not that, I guess you really want to win, you always want to be something you can't be. And I think that's what drove me and took me over that edge. Finishing second or third - or a lot worse - really irritated me, and it ate me alive inside. That's why I think I've got it today.” “In sports, you often see athletes finding something to motivate them”, he added. “You find that something and use it to motivate yourself to show them or beat them. I'll pick out little things, whether it is playing with a guy for the week or the first two days. And you just want to show him what you're made of, show him what you've got. I think it's important to create those little matches that go on in my head. I love it when somebody tells me I can't do something. I enjoy proving them wrong.” Expect that desire to “prove people wrong” to continue to drive the four-time major winner during a bumper 2020/21 campaign. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Injury ends Brooks Koepka PGA Tour season
Aug 20, 2020 11:44 AM
 
Forthright, churlish and combative, Brooks Koepka, doesn’t generally come across as the religious sort. But in the week his 2019-20 PGA Tour season was ended decisively by injury, he may be able to draw some solace from the New Testament (Matthew 26:41), where Jesus tells his disciples: “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” In other words, Brooks is not the first guy on earth who has been failed by his body and he sure won’t be the last. That the 30-year-old retains the competitive drive that elevated him to the world No.1 spot in 2018 was clear during the US PGA Championship at Harding Park a fortnight ago. Koepka arrived in San Francisco in a deeply indifferent run of form, having registered more missed cuts (3) than he had recorded top-10 finishes (2) in 12 previous starts in 2020. To observe that he was unfancied heading into the opening major championship of the season would be an understatement. But after opening with a spectacular 4-under total of 66, further rounds of 68 and 69 ensured he teed-off for the final-round within two strokes of Dustin Johnson’s slender 54-hole lead. True to form, Koepka was keen to leverage every bit of psychological pressure possible on Johnson heading into the final-round. I talked to @BKoepka tonight about whether he regrets his DJ comments, his reaction to Rory’s criticism & if he’s bothered that some folks think he’s a mouthy jerk.https://t.co/1wg4FRpaU6 via @golfweek— Eamon Lynch (@eamonlynch) August 13, 2020 Asked about his chances on Saturday evening, Koepka told CBS: "A lot of guys on the leaderboard I don't think have won (a major). I guess DJ has only won one. I don't know a lot of the other guys that are up there." He evidently had not lost any of that steely competitive will that drove him to four major championship victories in three years between 2017 and 2019. As it turned out, however, Koepka’s body could not sustain a high level of performance across 72-holes; he signed for a calamitous 4-over final-round of 74 at Harding Park and needed to content himself, ultimately, with a share of 29th place. The following week, he missed his fourth cut of the season at the Wyndham Championship. Languishing in 97th spot in the FedEx Cup standings ahead of this week's first play-off event, the Northern Trust Open at TPC Boston, Koepka determined, reluctantly, to yield to his body’s requirement for rest in an effort to regain full fitness in time to bid for a third career US Open title at Winged Foot from 17-20 September. On form, Koepka remains one of the foremost practitioners on the PGA Tour and no practicing professional can match his outstanding level of consistency at major championship level. However, a will to win can only take a golfer so far and it is imperative Koepka ensures his body can sustain him over 72-holes by the time he travels to New York in the autumn. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Thomas lays down major marker with victory at WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational
Aug 3, 2020 9:18 AM
 
When Justin Thomas claimed his twelfth PGA Tour title on his first start of 2020 at the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua in January, he looked ideally placed to recapture the form that propelled him to a US PGA Championship-FedEx Cup double in 2017. After all, Kapalua marked the occasion of his third tournament victory in the space of just seven starts, and Thomas has long possessed of all of the physical and technical raw materials required to dominate to vie with the likes of Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm at the summit of the Official World Golf Rankings. The emphatic nature of his victory at the Tournament of Champions hinted that he may at last have cultivated the kind of steely competitive mentality required to win regularly on the PGA Tour. However, Thomas missed the cut on the occasion of his next start at the Sony Open and after narrowly missing-out on a play-off at the Phoenix Open the following week, he suffered a second Friday-exit in three starts at the Genesis Open. By the time the PGA Tour suspended play after just 18-holes of the Players Championship in March, the 27-year-old had slipped back outside the top-5 of the world rankings and ceased contending meaningfully for titles. Once more, it seemed, Thomas’ streakiness was set to undermine his quest to return to the world No.1 spot. Count 'em.@JustinThomas34 wins @WGCFedEx to become the first 3-time winner this season. pic.twitter.com/JrFsW95tet— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 2, 2020 However, he hit the ground running when competitive play resumed at the Charles Schwab Challenge on 11 June, following up a T10 at Colonial with a T8 at Harbour Town. He further recovered from a missed-cut at the Travelers Championship to record a runner-up finish at the Workday Charity Open, narrowly losing a play-off to Colin Morikawa, and arrived at TPC Southwind to contest the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational last week off the back of a solid T18 at The Memorial. Put simply, he appeared to be recapturing top-form nicely in time for 2020’s condensed run of three majors over the next three-months; the emphatic nature of his victory in Memphis on Sunday confirmed as much. Thomas teed-off for the final-round with a four-strike deficit to 54-hole leader, Brendon Todd; however, he started strongly with birdies at the second and third and added further gains at the seventh and ninth to seize the outright lead by the time he reached the turn. A sloppy bogey on the 12th allowed Todd, Brooks Koepka and the in-form, Daniel Berger to briefly restore parity at the summit of the leaderboard. Koepka then edged ahead with his third birdie of the day thanks to a superb approach shot at the 13th, but he was quickly overtaken by Thomas as the Kentucky native capitalised on some fortuitous breaks to convert clutch birdies at the 15th and 16th. Undeterred, Koepka holed a spectacular 40-foot birdie effort on 17 to draw back to within a stroke of Thomas’ lead, but any hopes the four-time major winner had of claiming a victory evaporated on the 18th, as he drove his ball into the water for a double-bogey. Thomas coolly parred the 17th and 18th to close-out a 3-stroke victory and reclaim the world No.1 spot. “It was a hard-fought day,” Thomas reflected. “Besides that terrible wedge on 12, I played so well for 14 holes. I drove the ball just perfectly ... I realistically could have birdied my first 10 holes today and that is kind of bizarre to say.” If the world No.1 can replicate that level of performance at TPC Harding Park next week, a long overdue second major title may be a formality. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Koepka’s struggles deepen following missed cut at 3M Open
Jul 26, 2020 12:17 PM
 
Brooks Koepka is not one to mince his words. From Bryson DeChambeau’s slow play and rapid weight-gain, to Patrick Reed’s penchant for improving lies and the USGA’s plans for a behind closed doors Ryder Cup, he has never been afraid to speak his mind, even at the risk of alienating paymasters and colleagues. Indeed, in a sporting landscape dominated by PR-trained athletes more conscious of keeping sponsors happy than speaking honestly to fans through the media, the 30-year-old’s characteristic frankness is refreshing. Admirably, he exhibited the same forthrightness when asked to assess his form leading into last week’s 3M Open in Blaine, Minnesota. “I’ve played so bad lately; it’s really sucked.” Koepka reflected. “I’m just trying to find things. Every week I feel like the results aren’t there, but it’s getting better and better. My good shots are good, but I’ve just got to bring that bottom level up. I’ve hit some real costly shots. I seem to miss it short-sided every time and that’s been kind of the downfall of why I haven’t played well.” It was difficult to dissent from the four-time major champion’s assessment. Indeed, in 13 starts since defeating Rory McIlroy at the WGC FedEx St Jude last July, he had registered just two top-10 finishes, slipping from No.1 down to No.6 in the Official World Golf Rankings. Brooks Koepka ahead of 3M Open in Minneapolis: ‘It’s pathetic what happened’ to George Floyd https://t.co/UDqws14IYo— MSN Sports (@MSNSports) July 21, 2020 Perhaps most concerning was his form since the PGA Tour returned from its COVID-19 enforced hiatus at the beginning of last month. After tying 32nd Charles Schwab Challenge, he produced an impressive 7th place finish at the RBC Heritage. However, his form declined swiftly thereafter; he withdrew from the Travelers after his caddie tested positive for the coronavirus, missed the cut at the Workday Charity Open and finished T62 at the Memorial after shooting a humiliating final-round 80. Koepka consequently arrived at TPC Twin Cities to contest the 3M Open last week in serious need of a strong performance to kick-start a flagging campaign. He did not find one, paring a 1-under opening-round with an even-par on Friday to miss his second cut in four starts by a stroke. Damningly, the seven-time PGA Tour-winner stands in serious danger of missing the FedExCup Playoffs for the first time in his career. He came to Minnesota ranked 154th with only the top 125 at the end of the Wyndham Championship in three weeks advancing to the first round. A year ago, Koepka finished a career-high third in the FedExCup and he has made it to the season-ending TOUR Championship each of the last three years. However, 12-months is a long-time in golf and it is imperative the Ryder Cup veteran recovers a semblance of his regular level if he is to feature in the season-ending playoffs. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
DeChambeau’s transformation raises questions, but the golf media isn’t asking them
Jul 9, 2020 6:49 AM
 
And so, it finally came to pass; the newly bulked-up Bryson DeChambeau bludgeoned another golf course into submission and walked away with a sixth PGA Tour title at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Sitting at 22-under par with a three-shot, final-round lead, DeChambeau stepped up to the 18th tee at the Detroit Golf Club with victory all but assured. Conventional golfing wisdom, of course, dictated that he should play the percentages; grab a three-wood, whack a nice little drive down the middle, two-putt for par, and go collect a winner’s check. However, DeChambeau has never been one for conventional wisdom and, fittingly given the nature of his performance over the preceding 71-holes, he grabbed driver and uncorked a sizzling 366 yard tee-shot down the middle of the fairway. Two shots later, he birdied to clinch a 3-stroke victory. Bryson complains that being shown acting like a petulant brat hurts his brand. Who wants to be the one to tell him?https://t.co/RwSK4vcUaG via @golfweek— Eamon Lynch (@eamonlynch) July 5, 2020 While this title is, of course, highly significant in the context of DeChambeau’s individual career – ending an 18-month trophy drought and restoring him to the world’s top-10 – it has serious ramifications for golf as a whole. DeChambeau has been the talk of the sporting world since the PGA Tour returned from its COVID-19 enforced hiatus last month. He arrived to contest the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas on 11 June carrying 20 more pounds of muscle than earlier in the year, and he had already made headlines in late 2019 for piling on 25 pounds in advance of the Presidents Cup last December. All this bulking-up, of course, was undertaken with the intention of increasing club-head speed and, ultimately, the distance he is capable of hitting the ball off the tee. In that respect the 26-year-old’s muscle-building experiment has been a resounding success. Pick any driving stat you like, he leads it. He heads the PGA Tour in respect of driving distance at an average of 323 yards. In Detroit last week, he paced the pack with a mind-numbing average of 350.6, which reportedly broke a record for average measured driving distance at any PGA Tour event, one that had been set by Tiger Woods (341.5) at the 2005 British Open. Indeed, DeChambeau had 14 drives of over 350 yards at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, where nobody else in the field had more than five, and his total score since the Tour resumed play on 11 June is almost 20 shots better than the Tour average (his results read: T3-T8-T6-W). On current form, he looks set to dominate the sport for the foreseeable future. But there are surely questions to be asked of the rapidity and scale of the physical transformation DeChambeau has achieved. Sure, we have all read the profile-pieces and watched the social media clips documenting his radical new dietary and fitness regimes, and hard work in the gym has undoubtedly been central to all that he has achieved. However, the question of performance enhancing drugs hovers over all DeChambeau’s recent progress and it is imperative reporters start doing their job enquire about the PGA Tour’s notoriously lax testing regimen rather than simply fawning over long drives. At no point since play resumed a month ago has DeChambeau even been asked has he been tested. Had an elite athlete in any other sport achieved such a drastic physical transformation and rapid uptick in results in such a short space of time, serious questions about doping would be asked. The silence regarding this issue in the PGA Tour press corps is deafening. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Can Fowler rediscover his mojo at the Rocket Mortgage Classic?
Jul 2, 2020 12:37 PM
 
Insofar as any sphere of contemporary life can be characterised as ‘Darwinian’, professional sport must surely feature in the conversation. In no other environment, is the elemental Darwinian conceit, “survival of the fittest” illustrated more starkly. This circumstance was illustrated vividly when the PGA Tour was required to cease play after just 18-holes of the Players Championship in mid-March. No sooner did competition end, than fans and pundits began speculating on which players stood to benefit or lose-out from a lengthy period away from the course. Rory McIlroy, of course, was the natural selection for a player likely to suffer for the loss of regular season action. The world No.1 was the form player in world golf leading into the Masters and the lockdown looked sure to stymie the momentum he had cultivated over the preceding six-months. Indeed, such prophesies have been proven entirely accurate. A quick start and a solid finish to Round 1 for @RickieFowler.Highlights from his 5-under 67 Thursday @RocketClassic. pic.twitter.com/K313brsASO— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 2, 2020 Among the players who were perceived as standing to benefit from the break, Rickie Fowler was mentioned frequently. The 31-year-old is winless in over a year since claiming his fifth PGA Tour accolade at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last February and, in six starts prior to the lockdown in 2020, he missed as many cuts (2) as he recorded top-10 finishes. Put simply, Fowler has looked a shadow of the player who was a near permanent fixture inside of the world’s top-10 between 2014 and 2018; indeed, it is entirely fitting that he has slumped back outside of the world’s top-30 for the first time in over seven years. Given the extent of the Florida native’s slump, many commentators perceived the prospect of some time away from the course as potentially beneficial. It would enable him to clear his head, the narrative went, and return to basics on the practice course, insulated from the short-termism inherent in tournament play. Well, the early signs aren’t encouraging. The world No. 31 returned with most of the sport’s elite at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club on 11 June and missed the cut after shooting 73-69. The following week at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links, he shot 67-72 to miss the cut again. Fowler has consequently arrived at Detroit Golf Club to contest the Rocket Mortgage Classic this week of the back of a dismal run of four missed-cuts in 8 starts in 2020 and he sits 108th in the FedEx Cup standings. The pressure, therefore, is very much on the four-time Ryder Cup star to recapture form in the short-term if he is to have any chance of contending at this season’s three postponed majors in the autumn. Fowler can draw confidence from the fact that he was the 13th best putter on the PGA Tour in 2018/19 (13th in Strokes Gained: Putting); however, he ranked a meagre 70th in SG: Approach the Green and was 122nd in Driving Accuracy. Until his tee-to-green play tightens-up, Fowler’s hot putter is only going to yield limited benefit. Indeed, it is noteworthy that SG: Putting was the only category in which Fowler ranked inside the top-50 on the PGA Tour in 2018/19. Fowler possesses all the physical and technical raw materials to be a consistent winner on the PGA Tour and it is certainly conceivable that his tee-to-green play improves to a level commensurate with his putting in 2020. The question, however, remains whether he has the psychological fortitude required to convert such material, strategic advantages into victories under pressure. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Dustin Johnson wins the Travelers Championship for 21st career PGA Tour victory
Jun 29, 2020 5:41 AM
 
It is a testament, ultimately, to Dustin Johnson’s prodigious physical and technical abilities, that even after 12-and-a-half decorated seasons on the PGA Tour he retains an aura of unfulfilled potential. It bears restating, of course, that, by the standards of 99% of professional golfers, Johnson’s career has been an outstanding success. He teed-off to contest the Travelers Championship last week with 20 PGA Tour titles to his name, including a major (the 2016 US Open) and six World Golf Championships, and he is the only golfer ever to have won at least once in each of his first 12 consecutive seasons on the PGA Tour. That’s a 7.4% win ratio through 265 starts, a record that far outstrips the average of his peers and essentially guarantees Hall of Fame induction. The difficulty, of course, is that Johnson is not 99% of professional golfers; he is a member of that hallowed 1% who measure success solely in terms of elite titles. The emphatic nature of his performance en route to claiming victory No.21 at TPC River Highlands last weekend served only to underline this paradox. The more impressively DJ wins at regular Tour level, the more he sets the paucity of his success at the majors in relief. With his win at the Travelers Championship, Dustin Johnson has made $63.7 million in on-course earnings. pic.twitter.com/4oaLThUkym— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) June 28, 2020 The North Carolina native teed-off for the final-round two shots behind Brendon Todd, following on from a sensational third-round of 61. It took him five holes to draw even at the summit of the leaderboard and, by the time the final pairing reached the turn, he held the outright advantage, birdying holes 8, 9 and 10 consecutively. But in the space of 10 minutes, all on one hole, Johnson’s lead dropped to one. Kevin Streelman birdied the 13th to get within two shots, then Johnson hooked his tee shot on the 13th out of bounds on his way to a bogey. In about 15 minutes, he gained the shot back. He found the fairway on the par-4 14th, knocked his approach to within about 16 feet and dropped the putt. He narrowly avoided disaster on 15, when he was forced to remove his shoes and stand in a pond to hit his ball, which landed in the damp turf next to the water. He made par, and despite dropping a further shot on the 16th, a regulation par on 18 was sufficient to close-out a hard-fought, single-stroke victory at 19-under. “Even though there’s no fans here, you can still feel the pressure,” Johnson reflected. “The rain delay didn’t help very much because then I actually had time to think about everything.” “It’s very exciting to get my 21st win and then get my first win of the season. It was big because I hadn’t played very well. But I put in a lot of good work the last couple weeks after Colonial, and so it’s nice to see the game just start coming around.” Back up to No.3 in the world rankings, a victory in one of the season’s three delayed majors would be a fitting way for Johnson to remind Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka that he remains an important part of the contest for the world No.1 spot. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Coronavirus resurgence at Travelers Championship signals new normal for PGA Tour
Jun 26, 2020 6:52 AM
 
There were a great many takeaways to draw from last week’s Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut. From Rory McIlroy’s early tournament heroics, to Patrick Reed’s ongoing struggle for form, the event provided a welcome boost to a golfing public starved of regular season action. But perhaps the most consequential development to emerge from River Highlands is the fact that the event took place at all. From the moment Nick Watney became the first pro golfer to test positive for coronavirus at the RBC Heritage a fortnight ago, there was uncertainty regarding whether or not the Travelers Championship would go ahead. For although many players who had shared a practice putting surface with Watney subsequently tested negative for the virus, notably world Nos. 1 and 2, McIlroy and Brooks Koepka, it is well known that people can transmit COVID-19 for days before exhibiting symptoms. The potential for a mass outbreak among the PGA Tour elite seemed very real, threatening to derail painstakingly constructed plans to complete a drastically circumscribed season. The Travelers Championship is back! pic.twitter.com/Yn5uOE9Wju— TravelersChamp (@TravelersChamp) June 22, 2020 Thus, when first Cameron Champ, and subsequently the caddies of Graeme McDowell, Shane Lowry and Koepka tested positive for COVID-19 in Connecticut, there was a legitimate debate over whether or not the staging of the Travelers Championship constituted an unreasonable risk to public health. That the PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Moynihan defied significant pressure to press ahead with the event demonstrates the extent of the Tour’s confidence in its capacity to contain inevitable outbreaks of the virus and sustain regular season play over the medium to long-term. McIlroy noted as much in advance of the tournament, observing that it would have been ‘silly’ to cancel the event. "I thought Jay [Moynihan] did a wonderful job yesterday, just relaying the information and where the PGA Tour stands and where we're going forward," the Northern Ireland native told reporters. "You hear one or two positive tests and people are panicking. I saw a couple of calls to shut the tournament down, which is silly from my point of view. "There's been almost 3,000 tests administered and the percentage of positive tests, it's a quarter of a percent. "I think, as a whole, it has been going really well. There's a couple of loose ends that we needed to tidy up." It is difficult to contest the logic underlying McIlroy’s comments. In the context of an ongoing global public health crisis, small-scale outbreaks of COVID-19 will be a latent threat in all sectors of public life, and if professional sport is to be played at all in the medium to long-term, it is imperative organisations develop robust testing and tracing capacities. The PGA Tour held its nerve in hosting the Travelers Championship and such steadfastness in the face of public pressure will be an essential competency all major sporting bodies will be required to exhibit going forward. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Fans have to be part of the Ryder Cup, says Stricker
Jun 6, 2020 9:23 AM
 
For all the uncertainty that persists regarding the staging of the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits Golf Club in Wisconsin this September, there has been no shortage of fan, player and media commentary on the event. Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Shane Lowry, Russell Knox and Graeme McDowell are just a few examples of leading European players who have said that the event shouldn’t go ahead if fans are not permitted to attend. Even the European captain, Padraig Harrington, has publicly articulated his misgivings regarding the prospect of a behind closed doors contest, commenting that a Ryder Cup devoid of spectators is not really a Ryder Cup at all. In light of such forceful public criticism of the proposals, many pundits, notably the Telegraph’s James Corrigan, have speculated that it is a matter of time before the event is formally postponed. Will the Ryder Cup happen in 2020? We should know in a few weeks. https://t.co/1iO3pDRSJF— Golfweek (@golfweek) June 5, 2020 But for all the negative comments of players across Europe, it has been striking how few leading American golfers have proffered an opinion on the staging of the Ryder Cup. While the four-time major champion, Brooks Koepka, came out early in opposition to the behind closed doors proposals, a majority of the PGA Tour establishment have retained a deathly silence on the issue. This reticence led some to ponder whether the financial incentive of hosting the event (only the host tour profits from the Ryder Cup every two years) has already persuaded the US golfing establishment to sacrifice fan attendance in the interests of ensuring that the event is played and television and sponsorship revenues are received. It was significant, therefore, to read US captain, Steve Stricker comment last week that the Ryder Cup could be "a yawner" if held behind closed doors. Speaking to Golf Affect Radio, he said: "This event is made by the fans. If it was without fans, it almost would be a yawner of an event. To cheat out the Wisconsin fans would be a crime. I hope when we do have it, it can be up to its full potential. "So far, we're planning it as if it's a go, like we're going to have it but there's some obstacles that we're going to have to face. The confidence of the people and the corporate people. It's going to come down to probably the safety. And who knows, right?" Stricker concluded by observing that a decision will need to be made “probably within the next two or three weeks…The build-up to put up all the stands and all the corporate tents, all that kind of stuff, has to happen in June." The US captain’s comments may hold some sway in the corridors of American golfing power, but they are unlikely to be decisive. One way or another, the fate of September’s Ryder Cup will be revealed to us soon. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Ryder Cup: Justin Rose feels fan-free contest could be intense
Jun 1, 2020 11:02 AM
 
The prospect of playing September’s Ryder Cup behind closed doors has generated no shortage of intrigue since the idea was first floated back in April. Suffice to say, the dominant tenor of the response from fans, pundits and players alike has been overwhelmingly negative. Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Shane Lowry, Russell Knox and Graeme McDowell are just a few examples of leading European players who have said that the event shouldn’t go ahead if fans are not permitted to attend Whistling Straits Golf Club in Wisconsin. This perspective has since been endorsed publicly by European and US captains, Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker, while Brooks Koepka is one of several top American golfers to have stated that a Ryder Cup without fans is not a Ryder Cup at all. In light of such forceful public criticism of the behind closed doors proposals, many pundits, notably the Telegraph’s James Corrigan, have speculated that it is a matter of time before the event is formally postponed. In this context that it was so interesting to see the former US Open winner and world No.1, Justin Rose proffer an alternative perspective on the prospect of the event being played without fans. In his analysis, there are good reasons to hold the tournament in the autumn if at all possible, with or without spectators. Justin Rose doesn't think a Ryder Cup without fans would be as bad as it sounds... https://t.co/FUmvichiSR pic.twitter.com/2EqmYo41oe— GOLF.com (@GOLF_com) May 31, 2020 “We might actually be used to it [no crowds] by then," Rose told Golf.com. "It might almost be interesting if the Ryder Cup is the first event with fans. "Who knows how the summer is gonna play out? The thought of a Ryder Cup without fans is mind-blowing, but what is the new normal? Would we rather still have the opportunity to play? You can't just bump everything to 2021 because 2021 becomes chaos if that's the case. "In one way, it could be more intense between the two players. There's nowhere to hide, nowhere else to look. You know, it's eyeball to eyeball. It could create a bizarrely intense environment." Rose will be in the field when the PGA Tour resumes regular season play behind closed doors at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Fort Worth Golf Club in Texas on 11 June, and the Englishman professed to be relishing the opportunity to return to competitive action. "I think the sport will be a great help for people who are still not able to get back to work themselves in whatever way," Rose added. "I really miss competing and I'm willing to go through some of the pain that's going to be required. "It's going to be tedious, the checks and balances that we need to have in place to make it safe. For me, it's worth it, especially hearing about what the key workers have gone through. While we've been tucked up safe and sound, they've been out there on the front lines dealing with this. "So, for me, having to wear a mask here and there and deal with some questions and take a temperature and a swab or two, it's like, 'Get on with it, man.' You realise that you're pretty fortunate to have the opportunity." Rose’s pragmatic attitude may ultimately be the only approach capable of remedying the current impasse regarding September’s Ryder Cup. A suboptimal outcome is presently the best that can be hoped for. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Brooks Koepka on no fans at PGA Tour events: 'Guys are going to lose balls'
Apr 20, 2020 11:50 AM
Tags: News   pga tour   Brooks Koepka,   COVID-19  
 
The flood of cancellations, postponements and reschedulings occasioned by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted no shortage of soul-searching among players, fans and pundits. Golf lovers everywhere were buoyed following confirmation last week that PGA Tour play will resume with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas on 8 June. However, each of the first four events slated from June will take place behind closed doors and it remains highly uncertain when fans will be permitted to return to the fairway. This circumstance has prompted many fans and pundits to ponder whether tournament golf, devoid of live spectators, is a worthwhile enterprise. Indeed, European Ryder Cup captain, Padraig Harrington last week confirmed that both he and US captain, Steve Stricker are in agreement that the 2020 tournament, slated for late September, should be postponed rather than played behind closed doors. BREAKING: The PGA Tour will announce this week that it plans to resume its season June 11-14 at Colonial, according to multiple sources. Here is what the schedule is expected to look like when it gets released: https://t.co/J9v1ey9eEU— Brian Wacker (@brianwacker1) April 15, 2020 To many observers professional golf without live spectators is an essentially vacuous, commercial enterprise that would be better not being played at all. In this perspective it is the excitement generated by course-side fans that creates the spirit and meaning of the sport. Brooks Koepka expressed this view powerfully on the ‘Pardon my Take’ podcast. “It’s going to be awful without fans,” the world No.2 reflected. “The energy that the fans bring, that’s what we all live for, we all strive for; it’s going to be so weird. You want to play coming down the stretch and have everyone cheering for you. Imagine this: you sink the putt on the last hole and no one’s clapping. You’re just there by yourself, and you’re like ‘yes!’ Just you, your caddie and just silence.” Interestingly, the four-time major winner also predicted some higher scores. Deprived of the encouragement of a raucous, beer-fuelled gallery, Koepka suggested players might be inclined to play more conservatively and would also suffer for having no fans to help them locate wayward tee-shots. “Every once in a while, we just hit some foul balls and the fans kind of help you find it,” Koepka said. “I mean, guys are going to lose balls because of that.” Currently, the RBC Heritage, Travelers Championship and Rocket Mortgage Classic are set to join the Charles Schwab Challenge in not allowing fans. That would make the John Deere Classic on July 9-12 as the first event back with fans, though the Tour “will continue to monitor the situation and follow the recommendations of local and state authorities.” Here's hoping we get the fans back lining the fairways in time for the run of quick-fire majors in the late summer/early autumn. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Olympics postponement provides welcome reprieve for crowded golfing calendar
Mar 25, 2020 9:14 AM
 
To observe that the professional golfing calendar is in turmoil at present would be an understatement. So far, nine PGA Tour events have been cancelled. The Players Championship, of course, was the first to go – abandoned after just 18-holes. PGA Tour administrators have since announced the cancellation of the Valspar Championship in Tampa, the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town in South Carolina, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, and the Byron Nelson in Dallas. Add to the above the postponement of the Masters and US PGA Championship, slated originally for early-April and mid-May respectively, and it seems safe to say the schedule for the second-half of the year is up in the air. For even if regular Tour play is able to resume in June – and that is by no means a certainty – the PGA would be looking at playing four major championships, three FedEx Cup playoff events, two WGCs and the Ryder Cup in the space of a little over three-months. In this context confirmation on Tuesday morning that the Tokyo Olympic Games have been postponed formally until 2021 came as a welcome reprieve to golfing administrators. The Olympic Flame will remain lit in Japan and serve as a symbol of hope for the world.#TokyoOlympics @Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/LTfGzTcXeL— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) March 25, 2020 For although the prospect of competing at the 2020 Games was greeted with a far more sympathetic response from the PGA Tour elite than was the case for the Zika virus-riven Rio Olympics four years ago, the event already sat uncomfortably in a congested calendar – two weeks following The Open and two weeks prior to the FedEx Cup playoffs – and would have been rendered unplayable in the context of the present scheduling backlog. Even before the current pandemic took hold in the United States, former world No.1, Dustin Johnson announced he would be skipping the Games if he qualified because of where it sat in an overcrowded schedule. Brooks Koepka was similarly non-committal when quizzed on his enthusiasm for the Olympics, hinting at fears of physical burnout by adding another far-flung event into a busy summer period dominated by the majors. Even without onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, other leading players would surely have followed Johnson and Koepkain sacrificing the Tokyo Games in order to maximise their mental and physical preparedness for majors this summer. Thus, although the postponement of the Tokyo Games is sure to wreak scheduling havoc in those sports for which the Olympics represents the pinnacle of competitive achievement, it has provided golfing administrators with a welcome reprieve at a time of unprecedented tumult. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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